Monday, June 21, 2010
Today, we announced our strategic partnership with Catalent. Over the last six months we have learned significantly from each other and developed a clear understanding of the functionality and information that needs to be shared between a global contract manufacturer and packager with their thousand customers. Instead of getting distracted by the complexity of each relationship, we focused on functional simplicity and broad utility.
Companies have complex business processes and inter-company process integration is often a tug of war between two companies trying to force-fit one company’s process with another company. The semantics surrounding these conversations is also confusing, since business process names and information fields are interpreted differently by both parties. Expand the conversation to all your supply partners and you soon have a massive challenge in basic communication. The standards approach with EDI and proprietary portals only makes matters worse, because it requires too much process and information integration to get even the basic level of visibility.
In reality, we just need to use a single business application for processes that cut across all the supply chain companies. By using the same application that has a common definition of data, business rules and collaboration tools, we can eliminate the many-to-many, multi-enterprise issues. The purpose of a common application is not to supplant current business applications at each company but instead to put into a common application framework the processes we already conduct via our informal activities using fax, phone and email.
In any large-scale network application, the value is based on commonality of capabilities. Inter-operability and uniformity, enabling collaboration with all partners, is far more important than special features for specific members. Large-scale network applications focus on core features that enable valuable capabilities across all users. At the core, Facebook and LinkedIn are very simple applications that enable its users to connect and share information across a set of relationships.
Our approach at TraceLink was to focus on the core functionality needed to facilitate communication, coordination and collaboration for well understood business processes. In order to keep it simple and valuable for our customers we established three guiding principles for designing functionality in our service:
- We are the communication vehicle between contract suppliers and their customers for their shared business processes.
- We facilitate the shared execution of those business processes by enabling each party to push and pull information in a format and manner best for themselves.
- We link and instrument the related business processes to show mutual dependencies and overall analytics.
These principles enable us to fill the capability gaps between companies without imposing one partner’s IT requirements on another. We believe our approach and solution will deliver the true benefits the industry seeks from a Cloud Supply Chain. Our partnership with Catalent will enable us to lead the adoption of a solution that will create a more predictable supply chain.
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